Two heroic divers believed to be from the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team have taken centre stage in efforts to rescue a group of boys trapped underground in a cave system in Thailand.

Regarded as being among Britain's foremost cave divers, John Volanthen and Richard Stanton flew to Thailand over the weekend on a voluntary basis to assist with the search for the 12 boys and their coach who became trapped in the cave system in Northern Thailand ten days sago.

The pair were the first to discover the group alive and well on a ledge.

County Times:

Photo released by Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center, shows the boys and their soccer coach as they were found in a partially flooded cave, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand. Picture: PA

A statement issued yesterday from the British Cave Rescue Council said:

"We received a direct (but short confirmation) from our British cave divers of the joyful news that the lost boys had been located alive.

"Video footage of the boys and their coach has now been released and shown to families waiting on the surface.

"Two British, volunteer cave divers found the boys at their current location, but the last 36 hours have seen a coordinated and planned approach to the rescue being led by the Thai Military and involving many other nations (including the USA, Chinese, Australians and others).

County Times:

Richard Stanton, left, John Volanthen, center, talks to U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific Search and Rescue team personnel in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Picture: PA / Sakchai Lalit

"Equipment and air supplies have been ferried in to the system over the last day or so, enabling the divers to progress further in to the system than was previously possible. Diving lines have been laid to the boys’ location for other divers to follow with essential food, comforts and medical supplies.

Although the group have now been reached by rescuers 2km into a complex network of caves, efforts to bring them to safety are still on going, with "significant challenges" ahead.

"Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider," added the statement.

Volanthen, who is an internet engineer from the Bristol area who runs marathons in his spare time, and his colleague Stanton, a firefighter from Coventry, are among the world's best cave divers and have led rescues in France and Norway in the past.

In 2010, the pair received medals from the Royal Humane Society for their eight-day effort to save French diver Eric Establie. It is reported that they were requested by name by the French Government.